food, farming, agriculture

horizontal farming

>food, banana, avocado, biodiversity 12-4-2022 Our food system isn’t ready for the climate crisis – The world’s farms produce only a handful of varieties of bananas, avocados, coffee and other foods – leaving them more vulnerable to the climate breakdown – by Nina Lakhani, Alvin Chang, Rita Liu, Andrew Witherspoon

…”Even in the best-case scenario, global heating is expected to make the earth less suitable for the crops that provide most of our calories. If no action is taken to curtail the climate crisis, crop losses will be devastating. Nature has a simple way to adapt to different climates: genetic diversity. Even if some plants react poorly to higher temperatures or less rainfall, other varieties can not only survive – but thrive, giving humans more options on what to grow and eat. But the powerful food industry had other ideas and over the past century, humans have increasingly relied on fewer and fewer crop varieties that can be mass produced and shipped around the world.  “The line between abundance and disaster is becoming thinner and thinner and the public is unaware and unconcerned,” writes Dan Saladino in his book Eating to Extinction. The story of the humble banana, one of the cheapest, most popular and most traded fruits globally, shows us why diversity is so crucial …”…

>farming, coffee, sustainability tracing 5-4-2022 Does it matter if we know where our food comes from? By Elna Schutz

…”…Shalini Unnikrishnan, is managing director and partner at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which supports a variety of projects working on food tracing, including at OpenSC. She says consumers are increasingly willing to change their food shopping habits for more sustainable products, including paying more money for certain items. Mrs Unnikrishnan adds that while across the so-called ‘digital agriculture’ sector, there are lots of small exciting companies and pilots popping-up, policy frameworks are needed to scale these businesses up. “I think regulation standards are really fundamental to make sure that the changes happening, are happening at scale,” she says, because these provide companies, farmers and buyers “a signal of what is required and a framework for standards.” …”… 8-2021 HOW A PIG FARMER BECAME AN ORGANIC FARMER | PORTRAIT IN GERMANY – Until the end of 2019, 12.9% of all agricultural businesses in Germany had farmed their land according to the rules of organic farming. Michael Reber is a conventional farmer in the midst of transitioning, albeit not entirely voluntarily. By UTE VON DER LIETH 8-2-2022 Gates Foundation among investors backing troubled DRC palm plantation – by Ashoka Mukpo

  • the Oakland Institute has named the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation along with the endowments of the University of Michigan, Northwestern University, and Washington University in St. Louis as among the top investors in Kuramo Capital Management (KCM).
  • KCM is the majority owner of Plantations et Huileries du Congo (PHC), which operates three oil palm plantations in the northern Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • According to the Oakland Institute, Congolese police and PHC security forces have been repeatedly accused of violence against local villagers over the past year.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation along with a number of prominent U.S. university endowments are among the top investors in a troubled set of oil palm plantations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a report from the Oakland Institute. Researchers with the group told Mongabay that in the past year, incidents of brutality by police and security guards against local villagers and workers at the plantations had increased.

“We have a long history of abuses, but this last year has been really, really bad and actually there has been an increase in violence and repression of local communities,” said Frédéric Mousseau, policy director at the Oakland Institute.

The plantations lie in the remote, forested north of the DRC, and are operated by Plantations et Huileries du Congo (PHC). They were originally established in 1911 when the British industrialist William Lever, founder of Unilever, received a grant of land from Belgian colonial authorities then occupying the Congo. Some of the rural villagers living on that land were subsequently pressed into forced labor on the plantations.

In 2009, Unilever sold its stake in PHC’s 100,000-hectare (247,000-acre) oil palm holdings to the Canadian company Feronia, who received $150 million from European development banks to finance the venture. But after a decade of deep losses caused in part by a crash in the price of palm oil, Feronia declared bankruptcy. With assistance from the banks, in 2019 the bulk of PHR’s ownership was sold at a bargain valuation to Kuramo Capital Management (KCM), helmed and founded by Walé Adeosun, once a member of former U.S. president Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa.

According to the Oakland Institute, among KCM’s largest investors are the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as the endowment funds of the University of Michigan, Northwestern University, and Washington University in St. Louis. South Africa’s Government Employees Pension Fund and the U.K.’s Royal County of Berkshire Pension Fund were also among those investing with KCM. …

According to an investigation by the Pulitzer Center and El Pais, in June 2021 PHC dumped a load of toxic chemicals — including expired batteries, pesticides, and lead products — into an open lot next to a footpath less than a kilometer away from a nearby town, then set the pile on fire.

The incidents follow a pattern of controversy for PHC, which has long been criticized for mistreating workers and damaging the environment. According to a 2019 report by the advocacy group Human Rights Watch, PHC was underpaying already low Congolese wages, failing to provide its workers with adequate protection against dangerous pesticides, and dumping untreated runoff waste into major nearby waterways. Luciana Téllez Chávez, the author of that report, said that claims of poverty reduction and improved local livelihoods pushed by European development banks financing PHC didn’t match what she saw on the ground. …

But Mousseau said that more than a year after KCM’s acquisition of PHC, the ongoing violence and environmental violations at its plantations show that while its ownership may have changed, not much else has.

“What we hope is that students at these institutions can mobilize their universities,” he said. “If whoever is responsible for managing the endowments are turning a blind eye, put pressure on them to do the right thing.” 2-2-2022 Ending animal agriculture and planting trees on empty fields is ‘best chance’ to slow climate change, scientists say – A professor behind the analysis says “this is the biggest opportunity to turn back the clock on climate change” and encourages other scientists to assess his conclusions with an open mind. by Thomas Moore 12/2021 City allotments could be as productive as conventional farms, research finds – Two-year pilot study in Brighton and Hove shows value of urban food production, say scientists  by 16/11/2021 ‘Farmers are digging their own graves’: true cost of growing food in Spain’s arid south – Intensive agriculture’s insatiable thirst for water is turning wetland to wasteland, draining rivers and polluting groundwater – by Stephen Burgen 10/2021 Flour power: three men and a farming revolution

Farming Eco Warriors 1/2022 Hooked: How We Became Addicted to Processed Food by Michael Moss 2/2021 Who Poisoned Your Bacon Sandwich?: The Dangerous History of Meat Additives by Guillaume Coudray 4/2021 Additives and Addiction by Simon Ings 5/2021 The technology that could stop the use of plastic mulch – Australian Research Organisation CSIRO has developed a sprayable biodegradable polymer membrane that can help farmers produce more, while using less water, nutrients and agrochemicals. 5/2021 Greta Thunberg launches farm campaign: ‘We are creating the perfect conditions for diseases to spill over’ 4/2021 Mark Bittman’s warning: the true costs of our cheap food and the American diet by Oliver Milman

From Mesopotamian irrigation to McDonalds, the bestselling food writer tells Oliver Milman that his new history of food is his most important work

“The global, industrialized food system faces increasing scrutiny for its environmental impact, given its voracious appetite for land is linked to mass deforestation, water pollution and a sizable chunk of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The implied trade-off has been that advances in agriculture have greatly reduced hunger and driven societies out of poverty due to improved productivity and efficiencies. But Mark Bittman, the American food author and journalist, argues in his new book Animal, Vegetable, Junk that these supposed benefits are largely illusionary…”… 1/2021 Why I Stopped Defending GMOs – The scientific evidence is important, but there’s more to consider. By Kavin Senapathy